Vice President’s Ceremonial Office
Eisenhower Executive Office Building

5:37 P.M. EDT

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  Well, it is my honor and pleasure to welcome you, Mr. President, to the White House.  This is the first time that we are welcoming Zambia to the White House since 1992, so we think of this as being historic in terms of the significance of your visit and your election.

PRESIDENT HICHILEMA:  Thank you.

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  We recognize, of course, that in addition to the great ties between our people, we both share common values and a common vision of what is possible in the midst of the challenges that we all face.

And, today, of course, we share a commitment to democracy.  And we understand and know that to strengthen democratic institutions means to respect and uphold the rule of law and to lead understanding the significance and importance of fighting for all people and their rights and human rights.

Last month, we watched as a historic number of Zambians voted for you, with young people leading the way.

PRESIDENT HICHILEMA:  Indeed.

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  And I would say that is indeed democracy in action.

We also will discuss today our shared commitment to global health and to the environment.  And I’m particularly excited to talk with you about our partnership as it relates to addressing the issue of the climate crisis and what we can do in terms of an investment and a shared investment in mitigating its effects, including an investment in renewable energies.

But all of that to say that, as we all know, pandemics, the climate crisis — many other issues made very clear that, as we enter this new era, nations, more than ever, are interconnected and interdependent.

And certainly, when we think about that and our relationship to Zambia, we understand the significance and importance of our partnership.

And as I shared with you briefly, I’m particularly happy to share with you my fond memories of Zambia when I visited there as a child.  I just showed you a photograph of myself at five years old —

PRESIDENT HICHILEMA:  Indeed.

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  — posing in front of the parliament building there. 

And so, I warmly welcome you to the White House.

PRESIDENT HICHILEMA:  Indeed.

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  Thank you.

PRESIDENT HICHILEMA:  Well, thank you very much, Vice President.  And I must start also by congratulating you — it’s a bit late, but we did it at the right time — you and the President for winning your elections here in a, I think, decisive win.  And we’re following in your footsteps. 

We, too, were delivered by the people of Zambia in a substantial way under very difficult circumstances — democratic space not being abided — since we’ve talked about democracy.

So — but we’re very grateful to be here, to be invited to the White House after so many years of leadersbefore us who were not able to be invited here. 

So, we feel honored, Vice President, that we’re here.  And I think you touched on the most important issues — important issues to do with valuing democracy; valuing democracy, the rule of law, institutionalism, if I may use that expression — for us to be able to run our countries in a manner that would deliver what we may call demographic dividend.

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  That’s right.

PRESIDENT HICHILEMA:  Delivering accelerated economic growth, development to offer opportunities to our people — I think, Vice President, that’s what will sustain democracy.  That’s what will make democracy attractive.  

If we don’t do that, we’ll probably be giving space to other forms of leadership.  And the one we fear most, or we don’t agree most, is one which is autocratic, one which is heavy-handed.  We were almost getting there in Zambia.

So we’re very delighted that the people of Zambia, especially the young people, decided to give us this mandate.  And we intend to use this mandate very carefully, diligently, to deliver for them. 

Of course, the issue of climate change is very important.  I’m sure you may have noticed that, for the first time in the history of our country, we’ve set up a Ministry of Green Economy and Environment to deal with — specifically, with issues relating to greenhouse gases, (inaudible), to make sure that whatever we do to grow our economies, to provide for our people, we should not do it at the expense of future generations.  It’s very important to us. 

And I think it’s also clear to us that we have alignment in our values, what we believe is right, what we think is right for other people.  That’s very important to us.  And we share that vision.  We’re glad to be here. 

Thank you very much.

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  Welcome.  Welcome.

5:42 P.M. EDT                

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